Monday, October 12, 2009

Where did that come from?

"Where did that come from?"
Perhaps you have said this at one time. Somebody says something that takes you aback and you have no idea what caused a certain outburst.
But I want to take this saying another way. When somebody puts forth a new agenda for the church, or for you personally, we should ask, 'where did this come from?'. Did it come from God, or from somewhere else? Even if it sounds reasonable or wise or enlightened, we need to know the source of it.
The Bible speaks of two sources of wisdom. In James 3:15-17, there is the 'wisdom from heaven' and the wisdom which is 'earthly, unspiritual, of the Devil'. Jesus affirms this view when Peter told Jesus that He would not die on the cross. He said, "Get behind me, Satan, you are on the side of men, not God." (my paraphrase) Now Peter meant well, his heart was in the right place, but he lacked the wisdom of God in this matter and followed the wisdom of men, which in this instance, actually came from Satan. Jesus revealed to Peter the source of his declaration.

Now I say this with certain things in mind. Some are trying to push on the church their own agendas that they sincerely believe are from God. For example, some are putting forth the notion that active homosexuals should be allowed to become ordained ministers. This is done under the rhetoric of 'equality' and 'human rights' and, especially in the church, 'inclusiveness'. Now 'inclusiveness' is very much a biblical concept, but is it being used in a biblical manner in this case?
The inclusiveness of the gospel does not mean that God allows us to maintain a lifestyle that He has told us is wrong. Inclusiveness means that God accepts all who come to Him in repentance and faith. God reaches out to all and the church needs to reach out to all. However, when a person accepts Jesus as Lord he is required to submit to that Lordship. That means obeying the moral precepts laid down in the Bible.
God loves the homosexual and the adulterer and the murderer and the perjurer and every other kind of person. (For convenience, let's call them sinners.) We welcome all to come to church. But we do not make them ministers without them giving up their sinful lifestyles.
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Corinthians 6:9 Notice what Paul is telling us here. He clearly tells us that homosexuality is wrong and he places it among other obvious sins - theft, drunkenness and the like. He calls it 'wickedness'. He does not say, "they cannot help it, they are born that way." He does indicate that some of the Corinthian Christians did these things before becoming Christians. That means that some were (notice the past tense) homosexuals, but now they no longer are because God has washed them from their sins, sanctified their hearts and been justified. They are now free from their former condition. They are no longer thieves or homosexuals or drunkards.
Paul is being 'inclusive' but in a biblical way. He invites every kind of sinner, and Gentile sinners at that, to repent. No, I take that back. Paul preached, "God commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). God commands repentance. It is not optional.

Now I want all to understand that I am not writing this particular blog to convince you that homosexuality is wrong. I am not writing this to get an amen on this subject. My aim is for all to examine the source of whatever claims or agendas are being presented to the church or to us as individuals or families, etc. To me it is crystal clear that all this talk of inclusiveness has nothing to do with preaching the gospel to all or to accept as equals people of another race or ethnicity. It has to do with changing the moral stance of the church on an important issue.
I am only using this as an illustration since my readers most likely need no convincing that homosexuals should not be ordained. I want us all to consider the source.
Does this movement to accept homosexuality as good and normal come from God or from somewhere else? Does it originate from the church or does it come from outside? Now this has been compared to the civil rights movement of the 20th century,the anti-slavery movement of the 19th century and the women's suffrage movement. If you study these movements they had their origin in the church. The earliest abolitionists were Quakers. The suffragists were led by Christian women. The civil rights movements for legal equality for blacks was from the black church. Now the rest of the church often resisted these changes, but its source was God working through the church.
In contrast, the homosexual rights movement comes from the world, not the church. Is God now using the world to change what His Word declares is evil? I don't think so. This wisdom is not from above. It is not anointed by God. It is an attempt by worldly people to influence the church in a direction contrary to the Word of God.

We must always beware of this kind of infiltration of worldly ideas into the church. One thing is very interesting in the scripture in 1 Cor. It says 'do not be deceived'. It's funny how we can think that others can be deceived but that we can't be. We can be if we are not careful. Many are deceived today because they reason the way the world does and not according to the scriptures that they find out of date. But the Word of God is eternal and God's standard of behavior has not changed. Customs change, circumstances change, but God does not change. We may think that we live in an enlightened age. We have (almost) rid the world of slavery. We have great scientific knowledge. But the human heart is deceitfully wicked above all things. (In the world, that is. God gives us a new heart when we give our hearts to Him Ezekiel 36:26) The world is not getting revelation from the Spirit of God. The world neither sees Him nor knows Him (John 14:17). Those who have not accepted Christ do not understand the Bible because 'a veil covers their hearts'. We cannot take our lead from those who do not know God.
It does not matter how competent a Bible scholar they may seem to be. That is why I do not accept the opinions of unbelieving Bible scholars. And it makes me sad when believing scholars accept their conclusions. Trust what God shows you in His Word. Trust what the Bible says above even your own thinking. It has been perfectly purified. "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." Ps 12:6

We need to think about this on a personal basis, too. When someone has a suggestion or offers advice, do we consider whether or not it is truly from God? I have sometimes taken what seemed like sound advice only to have it be the wrong thing. I should have prayed and been more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I believe that if advice is from God then the Spirit will bear witness with your spirit. If you do not sense anything then pray about it. Ask the Lord for a scripture for confirmation. Make sure God is behind it.

We must always ask,
'Where did that come from?'.

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